Courtney Seiter is the Community Manager at Raven Internet Marketing Tools, a platform of Internet marketing tools for managing SEO, social media, PPC and more. She has only read 15 of Facebook’s 40 most shared articles of 2011, which is a little disappointing. Want to guest post for the Shareaholic blog? Email

Facebook has released the social network’s 40 most shared stories of 2011, and besides proving the world is way more into astrology than I thought (really, three entries about changing Zodiac signs?), the stories also let marketers in on some secrets about creating more shareable content.

While Facebook isn’t the only place people are sharing content, it’s by far the biggest player for most of us, with more than 4 million items shared every day. That makes this list a nice little Petri dish to take a closer look at.

I overlaid these 40 much-shared articles with a recent New York Times’ study focusing on the psychology of sharing, which identified five distinct types of social sharers (plus a sixth group that only shares infrequently). Let’s see if we can draw some conclusions about which groups share which kinds of content – and how we can replicate this effect.


Who they are: Valuable and/or entertaining content is like a gift for altruists, to be thoughtfully distributed to the right people or group. Their reason for sharing is often based on emotion, whether it’s positive (a funny video) or negative (a warning about bad weather)

Stories they might have shared:

How to replicate it: Focus on content that appeals to emotion, humor or urgency (the information-sharing impulse). Create content that answers a question, solves a need or advocates for a cause. Optimize for Facebook sharing.


Who they are: This group is focused on sharing news and ideas within their industry. Their reason for sharing is often based on coming across as knowledgeable and well-informed in their area of expertise, or portraying their company in a positive light.

Stories they might have shared:

How to replicate it: Create content that focuses on thought leadership and actionable items – think industry news, how-tos, tips and tricks and best practices. Optimize for LinkedIn sharing.


Who they are: Hipsters want to be the first to know and share what’s happening. They’re motivated to spread content that reflects how they perceive themselves and helps them receive social validation.

Stories they might have shared:

How to replicate it: If hipsters are your target audience, get ready to think fast and creatively – and don’t discount humor. Show hipsters a version or part of themselves as they want to be seen and they’ll be more likely to pass it along.  Optimize for more diverse forms of sharing, including Twitter, Foursquare and Google+.


Who they are: Never ones to back away from a controversy, members of this group are in it for the back-and-forth spark that their sharing creates, and gauge how well they’re doing by the response they get.

Stories they might have shared:

How to replicate it: Don’t be afraid to push boundaries! If you’re able, go ahead and (thoughtfully) poke a hot button issue in your industry. If that’s too risky, you might also consider riding the coattails of a controversial issue that affects your community. Optimize for Facebook and Twitter.


Who they are: Connectors use their sharing activity as a way to nourish and strengthen their relationships with others. They’re motivated to share content that’s meaningful to someone they’re already connected to.

Stories they might have shared:

How to replicate it: Focus on content that appeals to a shared emotional bond within your community’s members; use social media to create a common thread within your industry or niche. Optimize for Facebook.

Once you determine your target group or groups of sharers, keep it simple as you create content designed them. Remember to keep branding consistent and strong so no matter how far your content spreads, it’s still clear that it came from you.

Don’t forget to continually hone your content’s share-ability by asking yourself questions that help further define your audience.

What’s your take? Of Facebook’s 40 most shared articles of 2011, which ones would your audience be most likely to share? Why? Let us know in the comments!


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